Things Mom Never Told You, Vol V

How to Keep Patio/Deck Plants Looking Fantastic All Summer…

Are you like me in that you absolutely LOVE having plants outside on your deck or patio in the summer time, but hate the chore of having to water them every day? My patio is my oasis from life, I have Adirondak chairs and side tables that are painted cheerful colors, and everything is done to give me a tropical, “down island” feel for those few months out of the year we have summer. Having lush, well-watered plants for me is a must, and in the beginning of the summer it’s fun, but honestly by August, it’s a chore. IMG_3638 (1).jpg

The solution was to install a drip irrigation system, which sounds difficult, but really isn’t at all. I purchased my initial setup from Proven Winners, although there are others out there including the DIG system I found at Home Depot, which is what I’ve supplemented with. Here is a link to a video about the Proven Winners system, and you can purchase directly from them as well.  The customer service staff at Proven Winners are incredibly helpful and have a really fast response time. I’ve had emails answered within a day and sometimes the same day. The DIG website has a wealth of information as well, take a look at it too.

The way the system works, is that you have a coupler consisting of a backflow valve and adapter, that reduces the water pressure from your system down, and then the drip tubing connects to that. You then run the drip tubing around to where you want for your plants. You cut the tubing and insert a coupler to branch off tubing to extend it. They have “T” shaped couplers if you want to just have a single extension off, and “X” shaped if you want to have 2 extensions plus continuing your run. There are also different drip heads as well, depending on your needs. You can bury the tubing in dirt or under rock to hide it, run it behind objects, etc.

For the past several years I’ve put a brass “Y” splitter on our outdoor spigot, which allows us to have our hose still connected and then the drip irrigation on the other side of the “Y”. On that side I connect an automatic watering timer. For our patio I use a 2-zone timer, so I can run two separate sets of tubing. One set goes one direction, to the flowers, and the other set goes the other way, to the tomatoes and a few other flowers. That allows me to set two separate sets of times and frequencies. This year I also ran tubing through PVC pipe that I buried in the grass between the landscaped area off the patio, and out to a landscaped area further into the yard where I have a few potted plants. Then I know they get watered on the days our sprinkler doesn’t run. Depending on how many plants my patio ends up having, I may end up getting a 4 zone timer, as I’m not sure how many times I can branch off the tubing before I lose water pressure.

Pros and Cons of The Two I’ve Used

Pros: What I like about Proven Winners’ system is that the tubing is softer and more flexible than the DIG tubing I found at Home Depot. That allows me to disconnect it from the connectors and watering ends each year so I can change up the configuration every year. Another thing that I really like about PW, and I mentioned this above, is their customer service. I had a small problem this year with a part, and emailed them one evening about it, telling them what the issue was, and how I had tried to troubleshoot it, asking what else I could try. A few hours later (at 11 pm!) I had a response, which was basically “sounds like you have a broken part, I checked your order history and will send you a new one tomorrow at no cost.” Am I going to keep going back to them? You bet I am!

A couple of nice things about DIG is that it’s readily available from Home Depot, and they do have a bigger variety of drip heads available. So if I’m in the middle of set up and run out, or if I find that some of mine are no longer working I can just run up there and get new ones. I don’t have to order them online and wait, and is a bit more cost effective.

Cons: The tubing from Proven Winners so far only comes in white and tan, while the tubing from DIG comes in brown and black. IMG_1341Our patio is stained a terra cotta color, so both white and tan tubing show up VERY well, as you can see. I did talk to the nice folks at Proven Winners and even sent them this picture of our patio with white tubing showing, letting them know that not everyone has white concrete patios and could they perhaps get brown tubing? They said they would mention it to their vendor, but so far their website still has only the white and tan.

Another con, and this is a biggie for me, is that the tubing from DIG is very rigid and inflexible, and much more difficult to remove it from the connectors. So if I want to change configuration I have to boil water, and put the connection in the water for several seconds to make the tubing very pliable and I can then pull it off. If it starts to cool down, it won’t come off.  At that point I have to go back in the house and reheat the water, or cut the tubing off the connector and then take a utility knife and cut away the small amount of tubing that is still on the connector to start over. I’m either wasting additional time or money. I sometimes have to use warm water to soften the connections from Proven Winners to get the tubing off, but the water can cool down a lot more before I have to reheat it, so I have a lot more working time with it first, and I find I don’t always have to do that. Sometimes I can just pull connections apart. However, do that too often and the Proven Winners tubing will stretch out at the connection, leaving you with a leak.

Overall, it’s a toss up. I like Proven Winners tubing better, but DIG has more watering end options and I really like that, plus their brochure is really informative. I do wish I had known about a drip irrigation system years ago, and if you’ve never tried one before, give it a shot. They really are easy to set up, and you’ll wonder how the heck you lived without one this long. Let me know if you have questions about setting one up, or your success using one.

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Advertisements

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol IV

…How to Cheaply Make Homemade Magic Erasers!

It seemed like every time I turned around, I was seeing another use for Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser sponge. “Get marks off your walls!” “mystery marks on cabinets? No problem!” and best of all, “scuff marks on patent leather go away so easily with the Magic Eraser” (it’s true, they do. When I was traveling for business I kept a small one in my wheeled computer bag for my work shoes.) But if you use these, you also know they can get expensive, as they also magically disintegrate and disappear with use.  At Target, Walmart, and Amazon, a 4 pack of the “original but 2x stronger” (if it’s 2x stronger, then how is that the original, but i digress) costs .87¢ a sponge. That adds up fast! So when I stumbled on an article about making your own for a whole lot cheaper, I thought I’d give it a try. I ordered melamine sponges from Amazon, and then made up a solution of warm water, Borax and baking soda. (1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp Borax and 1 Tbsp baking soda.) After those were mostly dissolved in the water I dunked the sponge in the water, let it absorb the liquid then squeezed most of it out and tested it on some marks I found on a lamp. This is a free standing gooseneck floorlamp that I use for crafting, and my husband looked at it yesterday and wanted to know how I’d scratched it so badly.

fullsizeoutput_98c6

IMG_2229

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After using my homemade magic eraser:

IMG_2231

IMG_2230

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimated cost for my eraser? .59¢ for the sponge, 1.2¢ for the baking soda and <1¢ (.006 actually!) for the Borax for a total of under 61¢. Now I can guess what you’re thinking…20¢ isn’t a huge amount to save, and you could be right, especially if you’re a fanatic about coupons. But here’s the thing about that. I only bought a small bag of them because I didn’t want to be stuck with a huge container if this was a fail. I’ll keep working with them a bit but so far I’m happy with it. Assuming it does work well, you can get a bag of 100 for 7.59, which comes out to 7.5¢ per sponge, bringing your total cost per sponge, soda and Borax to less than 9¢. (And you can get more than one sponge saturated with the amount of liquid, so it’s really even cheaper than that!) As my husband and I like to joke around with each other, “How do ya like me now?”

…How to Clean Grippy Rubber

 Note: Includes an update on the homemade magic eraser. Have you ever had something with black rubber grippy stuff on it that has gotten really nasty? We had a remote control that was just plain gunky, covered with dust, cat hair and lord knows what else. After a fair amound of research, it seemed the best thing to use to clean it was WD40. So I tried putting that on my finger, then rubbing it on the rubber. I tried first wiping it off with a soft cloth, that didn’t work. I reapplied it and let it sit for a while, then wiping it off, that didn’t work either, still gunky. Third time I reapplied and let it sit, then came back and cleaned it off with my magic eraser. It completely removed the gunk. Disclaimer, it also did remove the grippiness of the rubber, which is probably from the abrasive action of the sponge. But you have to ask yourself if the trade-off was worth it, and for me the answer is “yes”. The alternative was not touching the remote, as the “eww” factor was getting up there.  (I also have tried cleaning grippy black rubber on something else with a store bought magic eraser and no WD40, didn’t work well at all.)

Extra notes of caution: Anytime you’re cleaning electronics, whether it’s a floor lamp, a remote control unit or anything else, just remember a couple of things. 1. Never spray anything directly onto your item. For the WD40, I applied it to my finger first, then used my finger to put it on the remote. Even though WD40 displaces water, and some people use it in electronics, my feeling is that it’s better to be safe. 2. Water is also not a friend of electronics. Squeeze out that sponge as if your life depends on it, and have paper towels close by to wipe off drips quickly. You really don’t want water getting inside the cases of things you’re working on. 

…How to Clean White Crusty Water Stains Off Things

You know the white crust that you get on things, like around your sink, or maybe on the drip tray for your ice maker, or even the floor mats of your car? I’m a great believer in less manual effort and more “find an easier way” if I can, and for that stuff I have. I soak it in some white vinegar. Usually about a 10% solution will do, but if it’s particularly stubborn I’ve gone stronger, even up to full strength. Yesterday I took the winter floor mats out of my car and poured some into them and let them soak for about an hour to get the salt residue loosened up. Worked like a charm! After I rinsed that off, I gave em a quick soap scrub and then they were done.  For sinks, I take an old rag and soak it, wrap it around the base of the faucet and let it soak for thirty minutes or so, then check and see if the crust has softened enough to either wipe off or scrape (gently and carefully) with a razor blade. We have a recirculating water fountain for our cats water dish, made of stainless steel that I’ll take apart and soak in vinegar as well. Again, why spend time scrubbing when I can soak that crap off? Put some in a spray bottle and spray down your shower, especially if you have glass doors. Let it sit for a bit then wipe off and it will help to get the built up soap scum off. If it’s really bad you might have to do it a few times.

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol III

Here’s the next edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered how to….

…Clean Tarnish Off Silver 

Because we all have so much good silver laying around the house, right? Well recently I did get a few pieces, and I wanted to make sure that they were cleaned up in the most gentle way I could. So once again, back to my ever trusty source of truth I went, and looked it up on the internet.

Line a sink or in my case I used a plastic bucket, with tin foil. Put the items you want to remove tarnish from in here. Cover them with boiling water, and to that add about 3 tablespoons of baking soda premixed with a teaspoon of salt. Let them soak for a few minutes. For heavy tarnish it may take up to 15-20 minutes. Some spots may even require some gentle scrubbing with a soft cloth, or if you have nooks and crannies in things you can gently clean them with a soft toothbrush. The tarnish transfers to the foil like magic, as you can see here, where the ring is on the foil.IMG_1968

After the tarnish is gone, remove them from the hot water and rinse WELL with more hot water to prevent pitting, then dry thoroughly. To prevent (or at least minimize) further tarnishing, first wrap in a soft cloth, then put into an airtight bag along with a small piece of chalk. The chalk with absorb moisture, which is what causes the tarnish. You can use this for both sterling silver as well as silver plated items. Check out my before and after photos of a silver plated sugar bowl:

That was in solution for about 2 minutes. That’s it.

 

…Scorch Marks from Fabric

I know, I know, who’s dumb enough to leave the iron on and down, right? Well before I got smart enough to buy one that lifts itself up when I take my hand off of it so that it CAN’T scorch anything, I will admit I may have done so on one or two occaisions. And of course if you’ve ever used spray starch, you know that it takes almost no time at all before you get discoloration that is nearly impossible to get out of fabric, right? Well here’s a tip that really works, provided the marks aren’t too horrendous.

Get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and several clean, old rags. Heat up the iron to the hottest setting the fabric can take, turn off the steam feature and put the fabric on an absorbent towel and pour some peroxide on the stain. You don’t need much, just enough to wet it. Lay a dry rag over the spot, and start ironing up the peroxide. The rag will absorb the peroxide, and the stain along with it. Continue ironing until the peroxide is dry. If any stain remains, do it again. You may need to do this several times before the stain comes out completely, but provided it wasn’t too bad it should come out. (I haven’t tested this on a huge variety of fabrics, primarily cotton and muslins, but it’s worked well on those.)

…Scuff Marks from Patent Leather

Use a Magic Eraser. Wet it a bit, and rub the scuff mark. Voila, gone like, well, magic!

 

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Watermark

 

If you lived in the Minneapolis area in the summer of 2007, no doubt you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing in the moments after 6:05 pm on August 1. I was sitting in my living room, when my husband called from work about 6:20 and asked me if I had heard that the “35W bridge over the Mississippi had collapsed” and I remember sitting down on the sofa, stunned, trying to turn on the TV. Those initial moments were filled with confusion, as I thought he meant the bridge over the river in Bloomington. It wasn’t until I started to see the news reports that I realized it was the bridge near downtown Minneapolis, and along with thousands of others became mesmerized by the horrific images on the screen. Little did I know that among the victims was a distant cousin who I had never met, and now I never would, and a young woman who would soon have an impact on my life, but I wouldn’t realize it until years later.

That August day was like many others, hot at 92 degress and a bit muggy.  Picture yourself in the car driving home from work, or to some evening event. Perhaps you’re speaking to a loved on on the phone, or listening to music. You might have the window open in hopes of a breeze if your AC isn’t working, or if you were lucky and it is, the windows all up. Traffic is moving slowly since 4 of the 8 lanes are closed for bridge resurfacing and there is quite a bit of construction equipment about. Suddenly, you feel a slight jolt, a little bump, and wonder what it is, and then, without warning, the road under you is just gone and you’re free falling. You’re in your car, plunging toward the Mississippi River, along with other cars trucks, concrete, steel girders, rebar, gusset plates, dust…The sound is defeaning, then silence. You’re under water, or perhaps on the remainder of the bridge at an odd angle, or pinned under concrete or another car. In the water you desperately try to get out of your seatbelt and then out of your car, in the murky water. Some did, 13 did not; among them Peter Hausmann who initially made it out of his car, then dove under water again to try and help a woman and her child get out of theirs, and was pinned underwater by debris by her car.

That fall, after the collapse, I was working at a health insurance company here in the Twin Cities as a nurse case manager, and I can still remember being told to do whatever we could to help the victims. Normal rules were waived, dollar limits on services or lifetime limits, even waiving out of network restrictions.  We were given permission to go above and beyond what we normally did, to ensure their care went as smoothly as we possibly could with the least amount of stress to them given that they had already endured so much. I was involved in the care of a young woman who had been injured in the collapse, and due to the nature of her injuries I ended up speaking with her mother about her care rather than her. Her mother and I spoke fairly often that fall, which was good and bad…bad that they had to speak to me at all, but good in that they had someone on the other end of the line who could help. My recollection is that when I first started talking to her mom, there was a lot of frustration on her part because of the issues and roadblocks they had encountered, one of which had to do with being billed for her daughter seeing out of network doctors at the hospital she was sent to. Keep in mind she wasn’t given a choice where she went, people were triaged to hospitals based on their injuries and how many people had already gone to other hospitals. She also had no choice in the doctor she saw. So why should they have to worry about paying extra, when the choice was taken away? The answer was, they shouldn’t, and ultimately I worked to make sure they didn’t. That’s just one example of the kinds of things we helped with.

Last summer marked the 10th anniversary of the collapse, and as we approached August 1 there were the expected stories on our news channels, in the papers, and on the radio. Stories from survivors, and from the families and friends of those who didn’t survive, making sure that their loved ones aren’t forgotten by recounting wonderful stories about them. One of those stories came from the family of Peter Hausmann, a man who who I later learned from my mom was a cousin of my dad’s. (Between my mom and dad, they once counted all their first cousins – there were over 200! It’s not surprising we didn’t know some of them when you start getting to the second cousins, the “once removeds” and so on.) I don’t know exactly which level of cousin they were, but it wasn’t first cousin, I know that. After seeing a video about him on WCCO -TV, I wish I could have met him. He seems like he was a wonderful father, husband and man of faith, and I expect he’s very proud of his family and how they have carried on.

I also found myself wondering what ever happened to the young woman that I had helped to provide care for 10 years ago. I found out she is doing amazingly well, and is living her dream – in New York. She’s acting, singing and dancing in the theater there, doing what she always wanted to do. I don’t know how to explain what it felt like when I learned that, except to say that my heart feels so full of happiness for her. Now, seeing her photo, her face is full of joy and enthusiasm, of wonder and beauty.  When I saw her picture, my chest filled up and I started to cry. It was an amazing moment, knowing that she’s on her way to fulfilling her dream,  and I think about the fact there is that one brief moment in time that her dream almost didn’t get to happen – perhaps 20 or 30 feet in either direction and she may have died, but she didn’t. She inspires me, when I’m not sure if I can meet a challenge, or if I want to stretch myself. I just think about her, and I’m reminded what determination can accomplish. The most amazing part is, I don’t think she was ever aware of me, and certainly has no idea that 10 years on she is still having an impact.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.09.47 PM

 

So many of us were impacted in one way or another, forever marked by the water: some literally, but most, invisibly. Today, a memorial stands near the site of the collapse, in memory of those who died that day. A granite slab with the names of those who died bears the following inscription :

“Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.” 

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol. II

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the next edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered how to….

…Really get the top of your travel coffee mug clean?

Me neither, until my husband took a good look at mine one day and said “um, honey, this is pretty nasty. You might want to give it a scrub.” Now, I rinsed out the top of my travel mug faithfully EVERY time I used it, with HOT running water. I have a spillproof Contigo, so I even held the button open so water ran through it. You’d think it would be clean. Nope. I tried soaking it a few hours in denture cleanser tablets…followed by a vinegar bath….followed by a mild bleach bath. Nothing worked. I even took old flannel sheets and ripped off little strips and poked ’em into the corners. Got lots of crap out, but I could see it still was gunky. After a bunch of searching on the internet (because we all know if you find it on the internet it’s true!),  I found the magic solution.

Mix a solution of about 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water, enough volume to cover the top of your mug. Put it in a container large enough that it is a couple of inches higher than the mug top, and set it in the sink. (Do not omit this critical step! You’ll thank me later.) Add a generous tablespoon of baking soda, and watch it foam like CRAZY! When it’s done, you can put a lid on it and agitate, although you’ll need to take the lid off every few seconds to let the air out. You’ll be grossed out at the gunk that comes out of your lid. I’ve done it now 6 times, and still getting gunk out of mine, as you can see in the video that I posted online. In that I don’t put a cover on it, but just stirred it around a bit and let it sit and soak.

You can continue to add baking soda, until you don’t get any more foaming up. At that point the vinegar is neutralized and you’ll need to have fresh water/vinegar for cleaning. This also works to de-gunk the lid of your coffee carafe if you have a thermal type pot, and I even did the drip basket on our coffee maker and got some results. I expect it will work with anything with nooks and crannies you can’t get into. I keep hearing how good vinegar and baking soda are as cleaners, as both are cheap, so don’t be afraid to use them. A 1 lb box of off brand baking soda at my grocery store is $0.69, and a gallon of white vinegar is $2.99.

Another good use for vinegar is to soak an old rag or paper towel with it and wrap it around the base of your sink tap and handles, where they get calcium built up. snug it up and let it sit there for a half hour or so, nice and wet. (If you use a paper towel you may need to rewet it periodically with more vinegar as it will dry out.) When you remove the rag, much of the build up can be wiped away, and most of the rest will scrape away pretty easily with a razor blade.

…Get the most out of your tubes and bottles of lotion and makeup?

Got this one from my awesome manicurist Brenda, to whom I shall be forever grateful. I think this is one of those salon insider secrets no one wants you to ever know, but I’ll share anyhow. So…when you think that tube of moisturizer, conditioner, hand lotion…whatever it is…when you think you’ve shaken it a dozen times and tapped it on the counter ten more and just can’t get another drop out of it, here is what to do. Go and get a popsicle stick, a small zip top bag, and a scissors. Cut the tube apart near the opening, maybe 2 inches (less if it’s a small tube) and use the popsicle stick to scoop out what is left in the tube. You might even find some residual you can scrape out of the other end too, so don’t forget to check that side as well. I put the stick and the parts of the tube in the bag and close it up in between uses, so that whatever I’m scooping out doesn’t dry up over the course of the next few days, since the tube is now open to air. If you won’t be using up the product in the next few days, transfer it to another container that seals up well but is smaller. For one rather expensive  hair product I got 4 additional applications out of the tube!

To get additional liquid out of small glass bottles, try reforming a paper clip. Straighten it out first, then put a small loop on the end and bend the loop 90 degrees to the rest of the clip. You’ll probably need a needle nose pliers for this, and may even need to use the pliers to get the paper clip far enough into the jar, so keep it handy. You’ll also need a small container to put the residual liquid in. Tiny travel containers or containers with screw on lids from camping stores like REI or Gander Mountain work really well for this. Check out the  video below. In fairness, I’ll offer the following disclaimers: I could have spent a little more time scraping out the bottle to get more out of it or perhaps made my scraper a better design, but I wanted to demonstrate what could be done for the video. You nay come up with a better way to do it, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you do.

As an addendum, I ended up getting about 5 additional applications out of that bottle.

 

Have fun!

The Yummy Sound

My husband and I were enjoying decadent breakfast of French toast made from homemade cinnamon raisin bread yesterday morning, and mid-way through the first couple of bites he made the yummy sound. You know the one, especially if you’ve seen the movie “Young Frankenstein” (if you haven’t, that’s a different conversation, and shame on you!). Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 6.54.06 AMWe started going back and forth with how many times a day we use quotes from that and from Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 7.03.50 AM“The Princess Bride” which happen to be our two favorite movies. Between the two of them, there is probably a quote for just so many occasions. Don’t believe me? Well let’s see how many I can come up with. 

 

You made the yummy sound. To acknowledge that someone has shown appreciation for how something tastes. Which is only the right thing to do, after all. 

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. What a nice way to correct someone who’s using a word incorrectly, with a little bit of humor. Especially if you can sound like Inigo Montoya.

Go back to the beginning. Stuck on a problem? Can’t find that thing you lost? Start over.

What a meanie. When all else fails go back to your basic schoolyard taunts and pouts.

Honey, did you see I put another hamper in the bathroom? This one’s for your shirts, the other’s just for socks and poo-poo undies. When your husband crabs about the shirts not getting washed separate from his poo-poo undies, here’s your solution. Now I’ll grant you this is a lesser-known quote. I just think saying poo-poo undies is too darn funny. 

Let’s all go have some sponge cake and a little wine. At least once a week.

Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has. Sound advice for a good many things.

Get used to disappointment. Parents of teenagers, memorize this, and practice it until it rolls off your tongue readily and with ease. Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel using it on them whenever you hear “It’s not fair!” followed by the foot stomp and the inevitable turning around in a huff. If you’re ready with this, you can interject it between the stomp and turn.

I’ll explain and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon. Feel free to substitute some other insult, but reserve this for some truly small-minded individual that refuses to listen to reason. 

Have fun stormin’ da castle. When friends are going off on a grand adventure. 

I admit it, you’re better than I am. See…it’s just not that hard to be gracious and make someone feel good about themselves. 

Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. On the other hand, it’s also not hard to be sarcastic. You should probably use this one about 1/10 as often as the one above. With someone who usually thinks they’re better than you are, but this time really boffed it. 

It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. We usually use this when looking at bugs or other vermin, as in “oohh, see that wasp? He’s mostly dead. Mostly dead means it’s slightly alive”. Typically followed by “Kill it!”

Are you a rotten liar! Parents of children, see above at teenagers.

Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up. Parents of children, ditto. Delivered, of course with all love and affection due to them. And maybe a hug too.

Inconcievable! Handy for a variety of things, but don’t overuse it. Look how well that worked for Vizzini. And remember, never go up against a Sicilian, when death is on the line.

Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. If you tend to overexplain things, this one’s for you! Hear it in your head and maybe learn to cut yourself off?

I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. If your hubby ever tells you “acting kinda witchy, aren’t you?”, well here’s your comeback. If you’re feeling really sassy you can finish the quote, but I’ll leave that up to you. (In the spirit of fairness, my husband has never told me that I’m acting witchy. He’s too nice of a guy.)

Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped. Substitute anyone’s name for Tyrone’s, tilt your head and shrug your shoulders a bit at the end and look pitiful.

Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.  And of course this follow up must be delivered deadpan. 

Gently! Anytime anyone needs to be reminded to slow down, take it easy or be careful. Just remember, the “ly” at the end has to be said going up like it’s a question.

As you wish. Men…husbands, boyfriends, significant others. Memorize this. Commit it to memory. Brand it on your brain.  When you screw up (notice I didn’t say if) just plan to use this at least once a day for a week, perhaps longer depending on how badly you screwed up. 

Now I’m off to do some castle storming of my own, as I head out to face 2 degrees above zero, a brisk winter morning here in Minnesota. And since I’ll be dealing with traffic not once, but twice today, by the end of the day I’ll likely need a little sponge cake and some wine. 

 

SKOL Minnesota Vikings!

You’ve heard it said that Minnesotans are hardy folk. We roll with the punches, we have thick blood to handle whatever cold old man winter can dish out, and then flip around in the summer to deal with heat, humidity and mosquitos. Ohhh, the mosquitos. But nothing is more heart pounding for us than a good football game, and we had that in spades last night. While I’d love to tell you the story of the #MinneapolisMiracle, Case Keenum and the little team that could, I think that Mike Freeman does it far better than I could ever hope to, in today’s Bleacher Report:

Skol Mary: Case Keenum Keeps Surprises Coming, Delivers a Miracle in Minnesota

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.51.43 AM.png

Go Vikes!

 

Why Bother With Gender

“The best a man can get”…the the words roll around in your head for a moment. Do they sound familiar, or maybe feel like they should be sung? They should, they’re part of a jingle that Gillette has been using since 1988. I’ve heard the jingle countless times over the years but until recently I hadn’t given it another thought.Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.51.42 PMPerhaps because of all the attention that is being given in the past few months to inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harrassment by men in a position of power, toward both women as well as other men, I’m on heightened alert.  But when I heard it the other day it suddenly rankled with me – why just the best a man can get? Why not a woman? Do women also not deserve their best shave at an equal level? So I sent them a tweet, not really expecting a response. To my surprise, they not only responded but rather quickly (before 3 pm that day):

 

I understand companies make and market things specifically for women, and that there can be a legitimate reason for doing so. Bicycle saddles are one thing that immediately come to mind. Because our pelvises are shaped differently, and what is called our ‘sit bones’ end up being in different places, as a woman you want to have a bike saddle that is designed specifically for maximum comfort. (Your sit bones are the bones in your butt that come into contact with the saddle when you sit on it. Google it for pictures if you need to.) But razors? Really? I’ve used a Gillette Quattro for years, as noted above, and really don’t see any reason not to. I’ve peeked at the Venus website, and see a lot of cutesey colors for women and a couple of things that seem to be invented to try to get women to think they need this line because it’s better for a woman’s delicate legs and curves than a “man’s” version. Seriously? Come on, Gillette, get into the 21st Century. At least it doesn’t appear that they’ve put a “tampon tax” on the base razors, however the refills are another story. Comparing the prices for a 3 blade refill (5 count), at Target the Mach3 costs $9.99 and the ComfortGlide Vanilla Creme Scented refills (I swear I am not making this up!) are $14.99 – for 4. The Venus Swirl,a 5 blade razor, is marketed as “adjusting to every curve” is $29.49 for 6 refills! You could buy the Fusion 5 razor with the flexball technology, which adjusts to curves as well and then your refills would be between $14.99-17.99 for 4, depending on which blade you picked. Talk about a ridiculous “tampon tax” (and another reason I keep using my plain handle) or gender based price discrimination.

Other places this price discrimination shows up is in personal care services such as hair salons and dry cleaning. Some salons will use the excuse that women’s hair is longer and more difficult to cut and/or maintain, therefore they will charge more. My recommendation is to find a stylist with the following motto: “I don’t care how much hair falls on the other side of my scissors, here is what it costs.” That’s what one I used told me a number of years ago, meaning she didn’t care if it was a trim or full on cut, man or woman. It was all the same price. Some dry cleaners are doing better now and giving the same prices for clothing, just charging higher if something is specifically delicate. I wonder if perhaps our ability to have a voice like this and raise awareness quickly through the media is why. 20 or 30 years ago before the internet, there might have been an article in a magazine, or a newspaper, and folks would get annoyed and mad, but then it would die down. Today with something appearing online and links being emailed, tweeted and retweeted and going viral in hours and days (Dear God, may I please have a blog article written so well that this one day happens to me?) there is power in our online words.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like being a girly-girl. I’ll dress up, put on make up, hose and heels, a little perfume and lipstick and I like looking nice and hope that in addition to my husband telling me I look nice, I might even turn a stranger’s head. But it just hacks me off if I feel like something is being marketed or sold to me just because I’m female, and for no other reason than that, or if it’s assumed that because I’m a woman I’ll like something pink, or frilly/lacy or delicate. Go into any hardware store and you can find tools that are marketed “for her”. I’m not talking about the ones with slightly smaller grips, or lighter in weight either. Nope, they’ll be in delicate girly colors like pink, or light blue, which is just so doggone important to me when I’m rewiring an outlet you know, or putting in a new light fixture, both of which I have done successfully and on my own without help from anyone, and NOT using a pink or blue tool. I have, however used the impact driver we own which is from Milwaukee in a lovely unisex red. (A really big thanks to my honey, great purchase you made! A thousand apologies to you for my ever doubting we needed it.)

What are some things you’ve seen that are marketed to women that really shouldn’t be? Have you ever tried communicating back to the manufacturer about it? I’d love to hear what happened!

 

 

 

Boom Goes the Dynamite

lamps

I have no idea how this will come together, but when I hear this phrase it always makes me want to laugh a little and the corners of my mouth start to twitch. So at the very least i need to put this much of a post to paper, and start out. Who knows where it will lead. Flight of ideas? The Diane Henders method of beginning a blog post? Suddenly before you know it, you have the whole thing put together and there it lies before you. It’s taken shape and come together and is a thing of beauty…a work of art. A blog post worthy of at least being long-listed for the Man Booker award. It’s insightful, deep, relevant and so in tune with the times. It hits at the heart of modern society, seeming to understand the soul of the middle aged adults of today and….blech. What drivel.

OK, maybe I blather and babble, but part of what I said was true, that phrase does turn up the corners of my mouth when I hear it and I have no idea why I think it’s funny. It almost makes me feel like a baby…imagine one not quite old enough to crawl, sitting up and seeing something that jut delights them. They clap their chubby little hands together and giggle with delight over and over again. Inside, that’s how I feel. The little baby is clapping and giggling.

Life seems so serious lately, and it occurred to me recently that perhaps we aren’t giggling enough. Reader’s Digest has a section called “Laughter:the Best Medicine”, and I have to say it’s true. We feel better when we laugh, endorphins are released. You get more oxygen, release stress, soothe tension in the short term and and improve the immune system, relive pain and improve your mood in the long term, among other  benefits according to the Mayo Clinic.

It’s easy to find things to laugh at too, just look around you, there are no shortage of them. Darwin Award winners abound! If you have pets, I’ll bet like mine they do ridiculous things from time to time. The most recent example is courtesy of my husband, and a purchase he recently made of yet another one of those things I just don’t get – a fidget spinner. But hey, he’s amused by it so that’s enough for me, and what’s even better, so is our cat, Inara, who has now figured out how to make it go on our hardwood floors. The sad part is, I was thinking “look how smart my cat is” until I did a search on YouTube for ‘cat playing fidget spinner’ and got ‘About 3,140,000 results’. Amazing and deflating all at the same time.

Go to any shopping mall, and just sit and start people watching. It won’t take long before you’re laughing at least on the inside, and probably shaking your head thinking “who dressed you this morning?”  From the mismatched tops and bottoms, to the absurd footwear, I mean really. Are they just there for my amusement and delight? Honestly, now I understand why guppies eat their young. And goth – I didn’t even know that was still a thing! I look at kids dressed up like that and want to laugh out loud. There is nothing like working hard at putting on a costume that says “I’m unique, I’m not mainstream, I’m not like the rest of you, I’m going against the tide” and then hanging out with 10 of your closest friends who look exactly like you.

Christmas decorations are up on a lot of houses now. Ours are done, and we try to keep it tasteful, not too many. We’re not going all Griswold on the neighbors, but I have noticed as I’m out and about there are some interesting things folks do with lights. I’m not quite sure of why people wrap only the trunk of a tree and quit when they hit the lower branches. Then there are the newest decorations, the laser lights on the entire side of your house. I’m old fashioned I guess, I love the look of lights nicely attached to the edge of the roofline, but I know it can be risky to get up on a ladder and get them attached, so you best know what you’re doing for that project. Otherwise ALL the neighbors are going to laugh at you when you explain why you have casts on both legs and are on crutches in the middle of winter. (I remember when a girlfriend’s husband slipped on the ice one year after a few too many holiday beverages during a poker game, breaking both wrists. Ponder for a moment how an accountant explains casts and sweatpants to the office…but you might not want to ponder that scenario too long. Let’s just say she was thrilled when the casts came off.)

The Minnesota Vikings played the Green Bay Packers last night in one of their regular season match ups. For the first time in 24 years, the Vikings shut out a team 16-0 (and in 46 years for the Packers that they were shut out!) boom-2028563_640Granted, it may well have been due in part to Aaron Rogers being out with a season ending injury, but I believe we still would have won regardless.  I mean come on, anyone who’s been watching the Vikings this year knows this team is on fire, with their 12-3 record. They’re in the playoffs, and the Packers aren’t! (That’s my nana-nana-boo-boo moment to my former neighbor and friend Corey, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t read my blog, but then again, I might be wrong. If I am, and he does, Corey, consider this the big raspberry I’ve waited years to give you.)

For a real corker of a “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moment, I leave you with this. A TV stunt that went awry, and ends up being funny but could have ended so very badly. It is pretty amusing, but clearly, don’t do this at home.

Merry Christmas everyone, and may all your “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moments be safe ones!

canes

 

 

Giving Thanks

This is such a strange time of year. Many of us sit at a table, surrounded by family members we’re obligated to spend time with but don’t really want to see, we try to make nice for a few hours and pray to God no one brings up politics while we stuff our faces with way too much food, alcohol and goodies. And pie. Pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat, pumpkin, lemon meringue. Oh, and did I mention pumpkin pie?

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 6.44.15 AM

This year is different for me, for a number of reasons. I’ve been out of work for 5 months now, looking faithfully every week for something that suits my skills and career path. It hasn’t been easy, not being able to find something, and I’m sure as difficult as it’s been for me, it’s likely been even harder for my husband. So as I think about what I am thankful for, he really is first on my list: he’s my rock, a source of quiet strength and support at all times. He pushes me to be my best in everything, but knows when to let me be. I’m thankful that we were wise enough to have money tucked away so that I can not worry (ok I worry, but at an appropriate level) about our finances during this time. Yes, we’ve cut way back on spending, and the list of things we need or want to get when I get a job is growing ever longer, but that’s ok. I’m thankful we have a home that isn’t in need of major repair, that we replaced the furnace a couple of years ago now that the temperature is dropping into the teens here. I’m thankful that we’re both healthy, that we have enough to keep us busy in and around the house when I’m not job hunting. I’m thankful for the fact that I can not only make Christmas gifts for friends and family, but that I have enough craft things in my home already to do it, and don’t need to buy much of anything so we’ll be able to have a very affordable Christmas this year.

I’m also thankful for so many other things around me. As the news of David Cassidy’s death broke on the news services, and I was immediately saddened and thought  for the first time, “we’re old!” But I’m so thankful for the joy he gave all of us young girls as teens, and that we got to have him in our life for a time, however remotely. Come on, admit it. You know you had his poster on your bedroom wall back then. I’ll admit it, but we were so young and silly and and young pre-teens and teens just thought he was so dreamy. I found an article yesterday on CNN that is worth a quick read that is a hoot, with a few facts about him we never knew. Take the time to read it, if you were a fan it will make you smile.

I’m thankful for my friends, who listen when I need them to, and who are just there to make me laugh, or hang out, or allow me to reciprocate for them in kind.

Speaking of my friends, I am especially thankful for some new ones this year I didn’t even know that I had. When I was laid off 5 months ago along with the rest of the team I worked with, I was just getting to know the team I’d worked with for only 4 months. We were all telecommuters, and worked from coast to coast, and were on different projects, so we didn’t all interact with each other every day. That meant after 4 months I was still just barely getting to know some of the team. After we were all let go, a group of 5 of us started group texting. It’s become a sometime support group, a virtual happy hour, and a wonderful sisterhood. So I am so grateful for Salpy, Jamie, Kathy and Blair, I don’t know what I would have done without you wonderful women.  Along with them, my friend Morissa, who has also been an uexpected source of support and assistance that I never saw coming. Along with all my other fantastic friends who listen, guide and help me look for jobs, I wish you joy and blessings this Thanksgiving.

What are you especially thankful for this year?